Yes there is hope and help for people that struggle with mental illness, but it is not easy to get help when there is so much social stigma about someone needing psychiatric help. Plus, even if stigma weren’t in the way, there isn’t enough professionals and resources to meet the overwhelming need–approximately 61.5 million (1 in 4 US adults) experience mental illness in a given year and only a third receive help!
The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church yesterday was a powerful time of exhortation for how churches around the world must take more of its part to better help people that struggle with mental illness. Here’s why: the church is statistically and anecdotally the first place people go for help with mental illness. 3,200 were in attendance at the sold-out event and many thousands more watching online via the free webcast. Tommy Hilliker announced that the plenary videos and all workshop audios will be posted online for free – what a great & generous resource!
[photo credit: Explorations Media, L.L.C.]
2 Christian ministries equipping people to run peer-based support groups were featured:
Fresh Hope – a peer-to-peer Christ-centered wellness approach to mental health recovery that empowers people to connect both their faith and recovery principles
The Grace Alliance – provides personal assistance to navigate professional care and improve personal life management through its Mental Illness Recovery Program (THRIVE) and support groups. Also helps the church understand the biblical and clinical perspective of mental health difficulties and disorders.
I missed hearing about church-based support groups. When I searched for them on the Internet during the past hour, I found no popular church programs to care for people struggling with mental illness, though there are a handful of local examples here and there.
Maybe a few churches will be prompted to develop church-based programs after yesterday’s event and make their curriculum available to churches everywhere. If history is an indicator, maybe Saddleback Church will be one of those curriculum-makers, like its past roll-outs: Purpose-Driven Church, Purpose-Driven Life, Celebrate Recovery, and Daniel Plan.
Millions are suffering and struggling with mental disorders (cf. NIMH): Mood Disorders, Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Anxiety Disorders, Panic Disorder. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Phobia, Agoraphobia, Specific Phobia, Eating Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, Personality Disorders, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder. And I think we/they can use all the help they can possibly get. Will the church arise?
[update] One OC Christian support group, Families and Friends of those with Mental Illness, meets on alternating Monday nights 7:00pm-8:30pm at Saddleback Church (1 Saddleback Pkwy, Lake Forest, CA 92630) in Room 310, nearby Tent 3. About this group::
To provide an informative, supportive and safe experience for families and friends with loved ones suffering from severe or chonic mental illness. This support group provides an environment where you can share your burdens, glean from others experience and find strength being with people who also have a loved one battling mental illness. You don’t have to go through it alone. Come and be with people who can relate to what you are going through.